The Indian ritual is becoming ever-present in modern beauty brands and practices.
As the proliferation of ancient holistic science Ayurveda continues stateside—think: pure copper tongue scrapers found on Amazon or turmeric-laced golden milks at wellness cafés—select evangelists of the Indian tradition are leaning into luxury to make their case.
Take pharmaceutical-executive-turned-beautyentrepreneur Lisa Mattam, who debuted her Ayurvedic skin- and hair-care line, Sahajan, three years ago at the Toronto Film Festival. “When I first introduced the brand, it was largely with celebrities, a specific set of people, yes, but they seemed to really understand how Ayurveda could fit into wellness and their lifestyles,” she says.
Of course, the practice of Ayurveda, translated from Sanskrit as “the science of life,” is more than 5,000 years old. Still, it has somewhat of an inherent esoteric nature.
Ayurveda is based on five fundamental elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth, and subsequently classifies each person based on their dosha, or energy—vata, pitta, or kapha—which determines everything from digestive problems to skin issues and sleep patterns.
“The woman who wants great skincare, who is mindful about wellness, she is one in the same with the woman who is interested in Ayurveda.”
Fast forward to now and Mattam explains that Ayurveda has gone “mainstream.” Proof of that? Next spring, Sahajan will go after a more affluent customer, thanks to a new retail partnership with Neiman Marcus via its 22 Trending Beauty locations and at NeimanMarcus.com. (Prior to this, Sahajan, which participated in Sephora’s founding Accelerate incubator in 2016, had remained largely a Canada-based company with select distribution in the U.S. through Credo Beauty.) Sahajan will also expand from face and body oils and serums into cosmetics with lip offerings in 2019.
“The woman who wants great skincare, who is mindful about wellness, she is one in the same with the woman who is interested in Ayurveda,” says Mattam.
Shrankhla Holecek, founder of Uma Oils, a luxury wellness line that retails for up to $285, agrees. “It has come into the public consciousness in a way because of the rise in health and wellness,” she says. “People want to take better care of themselves in all manners. They want something that is efficacious and good for them. That is why they are going back to something that is rooted in tradition.” And Holecek should know. Her family served as Ayurvedic physicians for Indian royalty for 800 years, who then transitioned to be farmers of organic botanical oils for the perfume industry when the monarchy fell apart. Now, her two-year-old line can be found through partnerships with Equinox and Goop.